The Library of Fates
Set in the fictional city of Shalingar, a war-mongering Macedonian emperor named Sikander has come to claim the hand of Princess Amrita in an attempt by her father to save his kingdom from being overrrun by Sikander’s men. Amrita is presented with a gift, an oracle. The oracle, a girl named Thala, tells Amrita that Sikander is not to be trusted, he will ruin the kingdom… and Oracles cannot lie. Then, true to Thala’s word, things suddenly go south very quickly for her, her family, and her kingdom. Amrita is left with only Thala by her side, but Thala tells her something that changes everything. There is a place where anyone can change their destiny, it is The Library of All Things, and if they can find a way to trick the Keeper of the library into letting them enter, Amrita can undo everything.
This book was charming to read, and felt like a story that deserved to be told out loud, like one of the many parables that is told within its pages. Amrita is well developed, as are the other characters, and it makes the story largely plot-driven, which is a bit of a welcome reprieve from character-driven, drama-loaded stories that tend to dominate Young Adult literature (which, if that’s your thing- awesome! This might not be the book you’re looking for then). The events that unfold around her are magical, and while larger plot points were easy to figure out, it didn’t detract from the story in anyway because there were still many things that were unpredictable which led to those moments. This is a standalone book, and a world that deserves to be revisited, and hopefully it will be in the future.
Amrita is largely likeable, even if her self-preservation instincts are slow (so painfully slow) to kick in when there is life-threatening danger happening in the book. She is a character that begins a journey of re-discovery when she loses all the pieces of her identity that make her unique, and the answers and eventual decisions she finds and makes are poignant and difficult, but truly the right thing to do. The romance in the book, while an important element of the resolution, is not overdone or cloying, but does feel a little unrealistic (but this is fantasy, and purely this librarian’s opinion).
The Library of Fates is a perfect read for someone looking for a fantasy story that breaks the mold of white characters and European folklore as its basis. It is also a great read for someone who wants a book that can standalone, as well as for readers who like to read aloud. This librarian highly recommends reading it together with someone (friend, family member, stranger on the bus…maybe not that last one).
tl;dr: Grades 7+, plot driven fantasy set in fictitious Middle East following Princess Amrita’s journey to rewrite the fates of her murdered/betrayed family and friends by finding the mysterious Library of All Things. Light romance.